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Old 10-05-09, 06:35 AM   #1
CrossCountry50
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Need Some Suggestions

I have been planning my cross country ride for next summer. I had been planning on going with Cross Roads tour group because I have never done anything of this sort and feel their expertise would help make the trip more enjoyable and safer.

With the current economic situation I am needing to reconsider my planning for the trip and am looking for a less expensive alternative.

Again, having never done a tour (even a short one) It would probably be best for me to go with a group.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 10-05-09, 06:53 AM   #2
mtclifford
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Again, having never done a tour (even a short one) It would probably be best for me to go with a group.
Thanks in advance.
You have until next summer to change that. You can also look on the crazy guy on a bike website for companions, though most people will want you to have some experience. My suggestion is to go on a few small tours between now and then and build up your competence/confidence then just let er rip. If you go with an organized tour it will be expensive. (at least expensive by my standards, others might disagree)
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Old 10-05-09, 07:35 AM   #3
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wow that is one seriously expensive tour! I think you should very carefully consider whether you want to be self-supported, carrying your own gear and making your own choices about where and how far you go each day & when your rest days are, versus being in a tour group, where they carry your gear and you are on their schedule, no matter how you feel or what the weather is.

It's a big adventure and a lot of money either way, and you want to make sure you are enjoying it.

Look at www.AdventureCycling.org for a middle ground - self-supported in the sense that you carry your own gear, but supported in the sense that someone else has the route planned and you are with a group, and there are people who can help you get ready. It's less than half the $, too.

Personally, I agree mtclifford that you have plenty of time to get ready to learn to do it on your own, if that appeals to you.

One more thing - if you have a job and a mortgage or rent you aren't going to give up, then the most expensive part of the trip could be the lost income and housing expenses you are paying while you are gone - so a supported tour may not be relatively as expensive as it appears, since it would take about a month less time away from your job.
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Old 10-05-09, 07:53 AM   #4
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I think that companion compatability is more important than experience if the newbie trusts and generally accedes to the judgement of her/his more experienced partner. I wouldn't mind an inexperienced touring partner as long as she/he had what I would (abeit uniquely - and subjectively) consider common sense. Maybe other experienced tourers wouldn't mind either......

+1 for ACA
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Old 10-05-09, 08:37 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by CrossCountry50 View Post
Again, having never done a tour (even a short one) It would probably be best for me to go with a group.
Nothing wrong with going with a group if that is what you want. I wouldn't advise doing it just because you haven't toured though. Touring isn't rocket science and it is quite possible to head off on an xc tour on your own especially if you have done some kind of self supported travel (backpacking, canoe camping, kayak camping, sailing, or whatever). Also if you are using that AC maps that helps a lot as well. If you have no camping or self supported travel experience then definitely do a few shakedown tours, but my two companions and I didn't find it that hard to just take off on the Trans America with no previous touring experience. We found that our other outdoor experience carried over nicely.

Since you have plenty of time before then a few short tours should be possible even if they are just overnighters though so why not take advantage of that?
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Old 10-07-09, 01:43 PM   #6
CrossCountry50
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Thanks everyone!
Fortunately I am self employed and can do my work anywhere I have access to the internet. I still am not sure which way I am going to go...it will likely come down to expenses.
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Old 10-07-09, 03:23 PM   #7
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I was in your shoes two years ago and chose to do a transamerica tour with America by Bicycle (ABB). Very comparable in price and services to Cross Roads. It was a trip of a lifetime and not a day goes by without flashing back on some experience. The ABB staff was efficient, highly competent, but a bit standoffish. However, the trains ran on time.

I went as a solo, which meant I had my own room. But most people shared a room and some even went 3/room- I'd have been a headline in a local newspapers had I tried to do that, but the doubled up folks seemed quite content and I think many became very close friends. Lot's of group dinners and breakfasts, lots of buffets, lots of pasta.

We crossed the US in about 50 days. My cost (as a solo) was $10K or about $200/day. Prices appear to be up about 10% or so since then.

The two biggest drawbacks were the size of the group (we started with 70 riders) and the pace of the ride (85 miles/day). Luggage load each morning took place during a 15-30 minute window usually starting at 6-6:30am. The ride itself always felt hurried, partly because of the distance and partly because you wanted to get to the hotel washing machine before your co-riders. Still, it was a fantastic experience.

Most of us rode road bikes, not touring bikes, since we only had to carry what you'd carry on a typical century type ride (spare tube, energy bars, water, etc). Given the lack of loads, the pace was doable. But on loaded touring bikes, this pace would have been a killer-at least for me.

Having done this, I'd do it differently next time. I'd seriously consider doing it credit card style. I think the cost might be cut in half doing it this way compared to a $200/day commercial fully supported tour.

I think the Adventure Cycling maps would be a great tool to use in planning a self supported credit card trip. My guess is that you could probably do it this way for $100-125/day solo and less than that if you had a roommate/partner to split hotel costs.

I have no experience doing self supported camping based trips, but I have to believe that the cost would be a fraction-even if you stayed in commercial or state park campgrounds every night- they're maybe $15-30/night. If you cooked Mountain House type meals (commercially available freeze dried meals) for another$15-20/day and you are at $30-50/day. I'm sure a creative chef could cut that in half. Pick a midpoint on lodging and meals and call it $40/day.

Some friends of mine from the ABB trip just did a credit card trip on loaded touring tandem down the west coast and averaged 45 miles/day or so-a much more relaxed pace. If you did that, a cross country trip would take 70-80 days of riding- add 10% for rest days and you are looking at 80-90 days. Looks like the cost for camping/eating Mountain House would be 85 x $40=$3400 or about 1/3-1/2 of what a fully supported trip would be. I would think that you'd want to budget for occasional hotels (rain) and restaurants (I'm dying for a steak)-but you could probably offset that by finding some free/stealth campsites.

You have plenty of time to get your feet wet by doing some short tours. The AC site has loads of people looking for touring partners. Also, "Crazyguyonabike" has similar "need partner" postings.

Bottom line, if you have a real passion to do this, you'll find a way. Go for it!!!!

Last edited by bobframe; 10-07-09 at 06:40 PM.
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Old 10-07-09, 04:09 PM   #8
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Dan,

One other thought. The ABB tours are broken into segments of 7-9 days. At the end of each segment the group takes a rest day and a few folks would head home and be replaced by folks doing the next segment. Some folks choose to do what they can afford or what they have time for. You might do a week long section and get enough experience/confidence to carry on solo.
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Old 10-07-09, 04:31 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
Look at www.AdventureCycling.org for a middle ground - self-supported in the sense that you carry your own gear, but supported in the sense that someone else has the route planned and you are with a group, and there are people who can help you get ready. It's less than half the $, too.
ACA

Southern Tier self-supported/camping $3349/65 days = $51/day
Southern Tier van-supported/camping $4799/58 days = $83/day

http://www.crossroadscycling.com/Pag...alInfoPage.htm

Crossroads

Hotels/restaurants

$8995/49 days $184/day each for two
$11445/49 days $234/day for a single


(Does it count if you don't carry your own crap?)

Last edited by njkayaker; 10-07-09 at 04:43 PM.
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Old 10-07-09, 05:51 PM   #10
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Our you could go fast with http://www.pactour.com/ - northern transam in 30 days. I've done one-week tours with them, they know what they are doing, fantastic support.

Everett, Washington - Fly in Saturday July 10th
Williamsburg, Virginia - Fly home Friday August 10th
30 riding days 3,484 miles 116 miles per day

$4,395 for 30 or more riders
$4,695 less than 30 riders
Single supplement $1550
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Old 10-08-09, 03:58 PM   #11
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Our you could go fast with http://www.pactour.com/ - northern transam in 30 days. I've done one-week tours with them, they know what they are doing, fantastic support.

Everett, Washington - Fly in Saturday July 10th
Williamsburg, Virginia - Fly home Friday August 10th
30 riding days 3,484 miles 116 miles per day

$4,395 for 30 or more riders
$4,695 less than 30 riders
Single supplement $1550
PAC

Hotels/restaurants

$4695/30 days $157/day each for two
$6245/30 days $208/day for a single

Much less time off required. Hmm.
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Old 10-08-09, 05:40 PM   #12
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Again, having never done a tour (even a short one) It would probably be best for me to go with a group.
So ... go on a short tour. How's the weather where you are? If there is no snow predicted for this coming weekend or next weekend, pack up your things, ride to a campground 30 - 50 miles away, camp overnight and then cycle home.

Look up the cycletouring clubs in your area and start riding with them.

You can also get info from here: http://itd.idaho.gov/bike_ped/bikeTouring.html
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Old 10-08-09, 09:14 PM   #13
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Yikes!
That is one big price.

Not to mention that it's only seven weeks - so it's 500 miles per week. A pretty blistering pace even if you aren't carrying gear. Day in and day out 80 miles. Doesn't give you much time to enjoy the places along the way. Also, staying outdoors in national parks, national forests, and state parks is a part of touring that many people really enjoy - one that is missing from this tour.

West to east is pretty tough for the novice rider since you'll hit some pretty big mountains and the heat of the Mojave Desert. Of course, with a sag wagon, you can just call it a day - - but why?

What about using one of the Adventure Cycling routes? Lots of people do the Transamerica ride every year. There are alos quite a few who do the Western Express option - which is shorter. You can always join Adventure Cycling and advertise there for partners.

Also, Adventure Cycling has guided trips - the Transam is 3 months and $4300 - but you have to carry all your gear. If you don't have panniers, tent etc. - then that's additional money. Still, it's a lot less than the Crossroads tour.

Most people can do the Transam easily in 80 days. If you budgeted $50 per day - you could ask to tour with someone else who is interested in a motel twice a week and developed campsites - not sneaking into the woods. Plus lots of meals at cafes. Now, some folks like to tour super primitive, but there will be plenty of people who want to have a "moderate" level of comfort who will jump at the chance to ride with someone with similar interests.

Then again, if you want to be super primitive, you can budget $20 per day and still do it.
Rough, but possible.
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Old 10-09-09, 06:42 AM   #14
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I think that since you have never toured before, not even a short one you may want to try one of cross state tours for a week. These are typically cheap and will give you a taste of riding 400 to 500 miles in a week before you set out for 7 weeks of 500 miles per week. Also on the week long test tour you can carry our own load for a few days and decide if loaded touring is an option that you want to do.
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Old 10-10-09, 08:55 PM   #15
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This past spring I did my first tour. Solo Self-Supported. 2100 miles. 37 days. Budget was $8/day. Never once paid for lodging. Never trespassed to set up my tent.
Leaving on this trip I had never done a over night ride. My body was in shape for it, but my experience was not there for the day in and day out details. Would not have done it any different.
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